Every few days our team will scour Shanghai’s dining scene for scrumptious dishes that’ll fill your belly without emptying your savings. Not to discriminate, we’ll search everywhere from bicycle carts to chic venues with twenty-course tasting menus, knowing that any spot could have the next Dish of the Day.
Yes, it looks like something that washed up on the beach, but fish nestled in a bed of caramelized spring onions is one of our favorite things about Shanghai. Famous renditions include Jesse’s cod head, Dianshi Zhai Small Feast’s sweet, crispy Crucial, and yellow croaker (pictured above) at Jian Guo 328, a Shanghainese mainstay.
The croakers (竹网葱香小鱼, zhuwang cong xiang xiao yu, 58RMB for five fish) are crisped and laid on a a sweet, sticky mattress of glazed spring onions inside a woven bamboo basket. The onions do a marvelous job of soaking up the fish juice, while the croaker crunches brawnily between your teeth like good fish and chips while retaining the moisture of a lake perch.
But beware the concealed rows of hair-like bones, which stick in your gums like little nettles if you’re not careful. We recommend crunching the head first and scraping the white flesh off the sides away from the bone. The sweet, flaky meat makes it worth the dissection. Think of it as the hairy crab of the piscine world.
If that’s still too much tussle factor for you, you can get your yellow croaker fix at A Niang Mian, where some poor sole has the unenviable task of sifting meat from microscopic bone day in day out so you can enjoy the filets spine-free in soup.
Jian Guo 328 – 328 Jiangguo Xi Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu (建国西路328号, 近襄阳南路). Tel: (0)21-6471-3819. Hours: 11am-9:30pm. Closest metro stop: Jiashan Road, line 9.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Large meat skewers @ Shanghai University
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
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